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White House monitoring Russian ‘anti-satellite’ capability, cautions no cause for alarm

The Biden administration is monitoring Russia’s pursuit of an “anti-satellite” capability but cautioned there’s little threat to Americans’ personal safety.

“It’s not an active capability and it has not yet been deployed,” White House national security communications adviser John Kirby said Thursday, a day after the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee raised alarm over a dangerous national security threat posed by Russia. 

Kirby called Russia’s pursuit of an “anti-satellite” capability “troubling,” reiterating there is no immediate threat to anyone’s safety. 

“We’re not talking about a weapon that can be used to attack human beings or cause physical destruction here on Earth,” Kirby said. 

Kirby said the U.S. plans to “engage directly with the Russians about this” and will work through the next steps, but had not yet made contact with Russian counterparts. 

“I don’t want to minimize the potential here for disruption,” he said. “It could affect services here on Earth, there’s no question about that.”

“Any anti-satellite capability should be of general concern,” Kirby added, noting private and public satellites circling the Earth do communications, command and control, transportation, financial, and commercial concerns.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan is expected to brief lawmakers Thursday on Capitol Hill over the intelligence surrounding the Russian threat, but Kirby said the White House had not made a decision yet to declassify the intelligence as requested by Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio). 

“We make decisions about how and when to publicly disclose intelligence in a careful deliberate and strategic way, in a way that we choose,” Kirby said.

“We’re not going to be knocked off that process, regardless of what, in this particular case has found its way into the public domain,” he added. “I can assure you that we will continue to keep members of Congress as well as our international partners and all of you and the American people as fully informed as possible.”

But Kirby said the White House is assessing with the intelligence community if Turner’s announcement Wednesday had compromised sources and methods of intelligence gathering that is considered before such information is declassified. 

“We’re asking ourselves that very question right now, because we want to be able to make sure we’re not or in any way, shape or form, anyone, could potentially compromise sources and methods. So we’re working our way through that analysis with the intelligence community.” 

Kirby also said it’s also unclear if Turner’s publicizing the Russian threat had compromised efforts by the administration to engage with Russian officials. 

“We’ll have to see,” he said. 

Updated at 2:54 pm.

Source: The Hill

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